04/18/13 — No. 1-ranked Trojans peaking at the right time on baseball diamond

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No. 1-ranked Trojans peaking at the right time on baseball diamond

By Andrew Stevens
Published in Sports on April 18, 2013 1:47 PM

About the only thing that has changed around Scarborough Field recently is the number next to Mount Olive's name in the Collegiate Baseball Magazine Division II Top 30 poll.

The Trojans regained the top spot in the poll on Monday and have won 18 consecutive games following Tuesday night's win over Francis Marion.

As April begins to draw to a close, Mount Olive has started its annual push toward the postseason. Along with warmer temperatures and the invasion of pollen, Spring typically brings out the best in Mount Olive.

The Trojans clinched their fourth straight 40-win season Tuesday night and the program achieved the mark for the sixth time in the last seven years.

Mount Olive (40-4 overall) has been downright dominant during its 18-game winning streak, particularly in the month of April. The Trojans haven't lost since a 12-7 setback to Conference Carolinas foe King (Tenn.) College on March 17. They have outscored their opponents 153-67 during that stretch and held seven different opponents to two runs or fewer.

Senior third baseman Jermaine Berry leads a potent offensive attack with a team-high .418 batting average. Berry has pounded out 30 hits and 22 RBI in the past 18 games. Ten other Trojans have batting averages at .333 or higher and seven different players have recorded 37 or more RBI.

Mount Olive's recent success has not been relegated to the offensive side.

The Trojans' pitching staff has recorded 110 strikeouts in the last 18 games and has recorded a league-low 3.18 team ERA. Matt Dillon (1.84) and Alex Regan (1.86) are first and second in the conference, respectively, in ERA. Regan's 10-1 record is the best in league play.

Mount Olive committed six total errors during a stretch in March when it lost three games in 12 days. The Trojans are averaging a little more than an error per game in their past 18 contests, but is putting up 8.5 runs a game to help mask most of those defensive miscues.

MOC sewed up its seventh regular-season conference championship since 2000 this past weekend and has definitely solidified its chances of earning a Southeast Regional bid.

The memories of the Trojans' abrupt two-game exit from last year's regional can't be too far from their mind. A determined team playing its best baseball at the right time this season is bad news for the rest of the country.